Whether it's sport or war, or indeed the war of sport, Australia has more than enough reasons to sever ties with Mother England and achieve full independence, writes Dave Donovan.
LAST NIGHT, the Matildas played the Lionesses in the Football World Cup. And Australia lost to the England women’s soccer team by 3 to 1. It was a thrilling game, most notable for the English focusing their attack on kicking Australia's best player, Sam Kerr, at every possible opportunity.
Australia is rightly proud of our brilliant team. The passionate support for them throughout our vast nation, which is hosting this event, as expressed by the staggering television viewer numbers for all their games in this tournament, suggests the cause of gender equality is making some headway.
Of course, this vital concern still has some way to go before any semblance of parity is reached.
But this fixture against our old foe and colonial master brings up another issue in which true equity is still seemingly a distant prospect: Australia becoming a fully and truly independent nation — a republic.
Some may say it is inappropriate to use sport and “harmless” sporting rivalries to look to build support for this eminently just and long overdue development. That, of course, is utterly false.
Because sport is a metaphor for life ─ and death. It is a form of tribalism, parochialism and patriotism that in other times may have been expressed in war or bloody combat.
So when the Matildas went to war against the creepily named “Lionesses” last night, the fact is, England could never entirely lose.
They either got to rub our “antipodean” noses in it − as they so enjoy doing in the vanishing rare instances they ever beat us in international sport − or they could somehow console themselves with the notion that we are still, in some ways, an imperial outpost, boasting the same head of state.
The fact we Aussies have not severed our remaining constitutional ties with the “mother country”, even after being offered the golden opportunity to do just that in 1999, to this very day sends English sports supporters, sometimes wearing convict costumes complete with mock ball and chain, into hysterics of laughter and even loud, derisive song.
For instance, one of the Barmy Army’s favourites at Ashes matches in Australia is loud stadium-wide renditions of “God Save YOUR gracious Queen”.
And Independent Australia does not blame England sports fans one bit for them engaging in this peaceful banter. It is funny and it is smart. The point most Australians lack the self-awareness to appreciate is that these foreigners pity us and wonder how it is that we cannot summon the self-respect to become our own nation. They have theirs, they are saying, and it is still superior to ours, because, in a way, it owns ours.
Maybe many Aussies like to be South Pacific poms? To cling like a shipwrecked convict, to the last pathetic pieces of flotsam from a moribund empire whose ships of state once “ruled the seas”, but sank long ago.
An Imperial dynasty that brought their self-declared superior breeding and culture to almost every part of the globe. Mostly, their gormless henchmen wore red coats and stood in straight lines, pointing muskets at those they considered beastly, uncultured savages.
The people who claim the right to be called sovereigns of this land, and their pompous blue-blood accomplices, were the ones who sent those they considered plebian human garbage on one-way tickets on stinking prison ships to this – to them – infernal land. A land of almost unimaginably vast culture, and hundreds of nations and tongues. Nations that had, over 60,000 years, developed a system of incredible stability. Who had stewarded the ancient land on which they lived, and worshipped, with incredible skill and care.
These foreign upstarts declared these people as being utterly beneath their contempt, primitive savages undeserving of even being called human beings. And so they declared the nation uninhabited, and slaughtered them without compunction.
The attitude of the English upper class during the most recent men’s Ashes series, where the members of the MCC – the fruity sounding Marylebone Cricket Club, which determines the rules of this supposedly genteel “sport” – called Australians cheats as they were forced to walk through their club. They then jostled the only dark-skinned player in the team, Usman Khawaja, because Australia had cleverly applied one of the rules they devised to gain an important advantage and beat them.
Frightfully bad form!
Meanwhile, the crowd outside at the home of cricket, Lords, chanted, “Typical Aussies, always cheating!” This, from the nation whose haughty gentry could not tolerate a dominion populated by its past outcasts, dominating it in their own so-called “gentleman’s game”. And so it devised a tactic, Bodyline, to try to kill and maim Australia’s skilful batsmen, who clearly didn’t know their place. The rotters!
So much for the “spirit of the game”. The spirit of the game is, to the born-to-rule English upper-class mob, tragically, for English and Australian alike, to follow orders unquestioningly, even if it means charging senselessly at machine guns and dying in a red and bloody mist.
But at least we have Anzac Day!
And now Australia has renewed its pledge of supporting Britain and our newer imperial master, the United States of Aggression, in both war and those rare times of relative peace, through the AUKUS agreement. And by angering our major trading partner and regional neighbour, China, through ventriloquising America’s bellicose statements. And through sacrificing our own people’s prosperity by spending countless billions on useless nuclear submarines, for no apparent reason whatsoever, other than to prop up our merciless overlords.
Becoming a republic will not, of course, hasten the end of our craven support of American wars, but maybe it might provide a spark of reckoning to the unaware Australian masses. The silent majority, seemingly unaware that they keep sleep-walking themselves and their children towards catastrophe.
Sport is not necessarily a reason to become a truly independent nation. But it is a metaphor for war. And Australia has sacrificed too much and too many for the rulers of the world. Whose elites, as the MCC example shows, hold us in open contempt and whose people also find us weak, clearly. Because we are, indeed, spineless.
Though not all of us. Not me, certainly. Not you, I suspect. Nor many others.
And not Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews, whose decision to cancel Melbourne’s Commonwealth Games is something to be applauded. Forget the usual suspects bleating about Andrews. If the British upper class want to continue what used to be called the “Empire Games” – a Reject Shop version of the Olympics that almost no one anywhere in the world is interested in – let them have it every year in Britain, along with all its associated exorbitant costs.
IA suggests they rotate the hosting rights around the countless stately homes, vast estates and regal castles inhabited by the British royal family and its closely related cronies. Let them get the MCC to write the rules. Let Princess Anne develop the event itinerary.
We, therefore, look forward to many more to-the-death sword fights at future Former Empire Games. And many, many more equestrian events — thanks, Princess Anne! And for obvious, historical reasons a lot more jousting competitions (outdoor only, sorry, Edward).
Yes, the Matildas are gone. Long live the Matildas!
And viva la Republique.
- EDITORIAL: Warring Matildas
- Australian politics due for an overhaul
- Poll suggests English tabloid readers believe sending King Charles to Australia a good idea
- Voice to Parliament valuable first step towards a republic
- Constitutional change requires a courageous strategy
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